What is the Deal With Honey? Will it Make Me Store Fat?

“The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey, is so as I can eat it.” – Winnie the Pooh

Honey is the real deal, folks. Unlike table sugar or most other sweeteners, raw honey contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 in varying amounts based on the quality of nectar and pollen. It’s worth noting, however, is that you’re not likely to consume much of these vitamins from honey alone unless you have the fierce honey-sucking determination and insatiable appetite of Winnie the Pooh.

Still, it’s got some nutrients in it, and that;s a good thing. But as with many other natural substances, mass-producers are finding ways to make honey less healthy through incessant processing. So if available, look for local raw honey or honey that has been “minimally processed” to get the most health benefit for the spoonful.

And watch out – honey actually packs in 33 percent more calories than sugar, which means a tablespoon of honey will pump you up with 64 calories as opposed to 48 with sugar. But according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Food Science, scientists found that rats fed a honey-sweetened diet gained 23 percent less weight than those that consumed food sweetened with refined sugar over one year. Even Steven, right? Maybe, but as with any other sweetener, you’ll have to really watch your quantities if you actually want to lose weight.

Personally, I prefer the taste of honey over table sugar and some of the other alternative sweeteners like agave nectar and stevia. I use it for everything from sweetening tea, cereals, and desserts, over pancakes, and as a sugar substitute in cooking.

Other nifty factoids: for thousands of years, diverse peoples including the Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks used honey for a variety of purposes. They used it as an ointment for rashes and burns, to help soothe sore throats, and even embalm the dead.

We’re still playing around with other ways to use honey: researchers at Penn State tested honey against the active ingredient in most cough medicines (dextromethorphan) as a cough suppressant and found that honey is more effective. Let me say that again: honey is a better cough suppressant than cough medicine!

That gives you a good reason to avoid gurgling chemical-laden and often expensive cough medicines when you’ve got a case of the sniffles. Sip on some lemon echinacea tea with a spoonful of honey instead.

Here’s a quick warning, though… Don’t give honey to an infant younger than one. Raw honey rarely contains spores of a bacteria that can cause botulism, which a baby’s immature immune system can’t handle. But unless you’re a baby genius who reads blogs, yours can.

So okay, it’s not like honey will help you burn fat, but it’s certainly a much better sweetening option than table sugar and other refined or chemical sweeteners. Use honey sparingly and enjoy it when you do.


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